Impact Publications : MiceBTN_65
Page 6 • MICEBTN - DEC 2016 - FEB 2017 NZ looks to infrastructure investment – will it create a model Australia could adapt? Development of tourism in- frastructure is a frequent topic of conference programs and industry events in Australia, nZ and just about anywhere else that values tourism as some- thing to be encouraged for business, cultural, lifestyle and economic wellbeing. In NZ four industry stalwarts – all with a genuine claim to the ‘tourism leader’ status so frequently bandied around with little substance behind it – have decided the time has come to stop talking and do something about it. They have researched and writ- ten a report that calls for a national tourism infrastructure levy to fund targeted improvements – as opposed to the rather less-clearly-defined bed tax proposals talked of in Auckland and elsewhere following the October local government elections. Auckland’s new mayor Phil Goff, a previous Labour government cabinet minister and opposition leader, also envisages a regional fuel tax. His bed tax would be applied primarily to funding event bids or sponsorships rather than the infrastructure to deal with visitor growth. The chief executives of Air NZ, Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport and Tourism Holdings are proposing a targeted fund that puts around NZ$130 million annually into addressing infrastructure challenges, encouraging further private invest- ment and community initiatives espe- cially outside the main urban centres. This includes key MICE destina- tions such as Queenstown where the ratepayer base is relatively small. Their report could potentially be adapted for application in Australia. Air NZ”s Christopher Luxon noted that tourism is NZ’s largest industry and growing fast. “While growth pre- sents huge opportunities for NZ com- munities the challenges that come with growth need to be well managed and the tourism industry is commit- ted to being part of the solution.” And Malcolm Johns of Christchurch Airport commented that some local communities were pushed to pay for infrastructure. “Rapid tourism growth over recent years means there’s already a local tourism infrastructure deficit in parts of NZ especially in regions with low numbers of rate paying residents and high visitor numbers.” The report suggests that govern- ment and industry can work together nationally to create a fund to address the tourism infrastructure deficit. It highlights that the government ben- efits significantly from the tourism industry, not least from the estimat- ed $2.8 billion in GST that tourists pay every year, and should invest alongside the tourism industry if the industry is prepared to contribute to a ring-fenced and highly-targeted fund to improve local tourism infrastruc- ture. The four leaders feel the fund could be based on a two per cent national bed levy and a NZ$5 increase to the border levy which would raise NZ$65 million per annum from the industry. Matching funds from the government would bring this to NZ$130 million. It also recommends a formal review every five years to ensure the funds are being appropriately applied. The report authors were keen to avoid problems observed overseas – including in Australia – where tourism levies are used for general revenue The four report authors with the then NZ prime minister and tourism minister John Key (centre).